La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 18 July 2022
Heat and drought, it looks like it's going to last...it's not going to help mountain conditions.
Conditions on glacier and snow/mixed routes are deteriorating quickly. There are beginning to be rockfalls even on pure rock climbs so choose your routes carefully.
Lots of teams on the Dorées traverse (E-W direction). There is also climbing on the S side of the Dorées. Access is via the Col des Plines (the fenêtre de Saleina is in bad shape).
A 45-50 m abseil is needed to cross the Col Blanc.
The glacier du Tour is drying out, not much snow, beware of fragile snow bridges. There are several "crevasse jumps" (watch out for your ankles when landing with crampons).
Tête Blanche and Petite Fourche (some ice) are being done, as is the Purtscheller.
Still some activity on the Aiguille du Tour normal route (rimaye ok). The Col Sup. du Tour is unpleasant and not very appealing but is passable. Be careful not to drop too many rocks on other teams.
Arête de la Table is ok if you do the integral route.
Land of the climber and the crystal hunter!
One of the sectors to practice rock climbing in peace and quiet...
The glacier to reach the Drus is still crossable (teams on the traverse and on the Contamine).
Some teams on Sale Athée. A team on the Contamine on the Evêque: little snow at the bottom so the gap between rock and snow (“la roture”) is OK, the start is on steep glacial slabs.
Conditions are still good in the Moine sector. The “roture” (gap between snow and rock) on the VN (voie normale) is deteriorating, you can go a bit more to the right and join the first belay before going back to the left.
The Moine ridge on the Verte is being done there and back. A lot of teams coming from the Grands Montets ridge. The “calotte” (snowy cap on the summit) is fine.
The Droites/Courtes sector is now only terrain for crystal hunters.
The rock routes are tip-top.
No recent activity on the Aiguille de Leschaux.
The snow bridges are getting thinner and thinner (and unlike cheese, it's not going to get any better) but it's still possible to access the Petites Jorasses.
Quite a few teams on the Cassin on the Walker spur. No significant rock falls for the moment. See below for a report from a climb on 15 & 16 July (this is a report from just one party and the perception and appreciation of the conditions may vary from one person to another depending on their level etc).
"The approach at the base of the spur is easy but there is a risk of snow/ice falls at the start, the first crack is dirty and scrappy for about ten metres (afterwards it is cleaner). Otherwise the snow is probably still climbable (I can send you a photo if needed).
Then it's generally dry up to the triangular névé (all in rock shoes).
The steep part of the red chimney is easy to climb with rock shoes despite the ice at the bottom (some teams wore crampons), but crampons are needed at the end of the red chimney to reach the traverse to the right at the foot of the Tour Rouge.
(Then I found it comfortable to keep crampons for the cracked slab accessing the traverse under the Tour Rouge and for the beginning of the very wet couloir at the right end of this traverse).
Then it's all dry as soon as you leave the couloir that borders the right side of the Tour Rouge (when you rejoin the crest on the left). (Done in big boots without crampons).
I put crampons back on one pitch below the summit (bits of ice and then a small traverse under the summit cornice).
To summarise I would say:
- Rock shoes at least until the triangular neve
- Crampons on somewhere between the triangular neve and the top of the red chimney
- Remove crampons at the top of the Tour Rouge.
- Put on crampons 60m below the summit.
Equipment: one ice axe per person sufficient.
- In the afternoon in several places up to the base of the Alain-Rébuffat diedres.
- Small névé shortly after the pendulum abseil.
- On the descent, below the summit, ice is not far away. On the lower glacier you need to zigzag between the crevasses, at the end some short sections of ice (including 10m of black ice)."
Note that several teams turned back this morning: the level of the glacier being very low, there is more climbing than usual, watch this space.
Envers des Aiguilles/ Requin
The République rimaye is still passable (first by the rocks on the left bank then by the lower ledges to get a foothold on the rock (the upper passage is no longer ok).
Glacier des Nantillons no longer in use.
The other sectors are fine. République bananière rimaye OK, possibility to find water at belay 15.
Teams on the Dent du Requin (Renaudie) and the Aiguille Pierre-Alain (Congo Star).
Ascent of the Vallée Blanche still possible.
Access to the Salle à Manger is completely dry (see the report on the Dent du Géant in the "cahier de course” on La Chamoniarde). The Rochefort arête is still in good condition (some ice but fixed rope in place).
Teams on the Jorasses traverse in good conditions. For the moment, the descent via the normal route is OK. It seems preferable to descend via the Whymper rib (possibly doing the round trip to the summit of the Walker) rather than the classic route and the traverse under the serac. The Grandes Jorasses and Planpincieux glaciers are still quite accessible.
The Marbrées traverse (integral) and the Aiguilles d'Entrêves (be careful on the glacier) are being done regularly.
Aiguilles du Diable traverse: Dry, dry, dry! But still being done.
The rimayes are still there! Perhaps a deterioration at the Pic Adolphe Rey (you may need to go into it) but no certainty on the reliability of this information. Note a new rockfall on the Trident, which has not been done much in recent years anyway.
Aiguille du Midi sector
The Midi arete is deteriorating (ice, crevasses).
The traverse of the Vallée Blanche is pretty crevassed but still being done (repeated crevasse falls in the last few weeks). It is necessary to pass as low as possible under Pointe Adolphe Rey. An alternative route (see photo) has been made to avoid the precarious snow bridge under the Aiguille de Toule.
It's over for the Midi-Plan. Traversing the Aiguilles de Chamonix is also very dry, plan to descend by the abseils on the West face of the Blaitière.
Curtains for the Pointes Lachenal (all ice, unstable rocks in the abseiling area) and for the Triangle du Tacul.
The Cosmiques ridge is very dry. As a reminder, the abseiling area has been subject to rock falls/bursts for some years.
Trois Monts : The rimayes on the Tacul are becoming more fragile. The bridge of the upper one is regularly collapsing and you need to head more and more to the right. On Mont Maudit, the route is becoming steeper and there is ice on the traverse under the Col du Mont Maudit (2 ice axes recommended). Numerous crevasses to cross on the route. Reserved for good climbers with good crampon skills (as you have to go back down by this route).
Plan de l'Aiguille sector
Some chilly rock to climb.
It's over for the Nantillons. The Cordier pillar is being done (descend by abseil).
Go around the bottom of the Nantillons glacier (rock falls) to access the Aiguille de l'M/Cordier pillar etc.
A few teams going to or from Mont Blanc. N ridge of the Dôme du Goûter possible (little ice). Contact the guardian for conditions and tips.
Mont Blanc by the Aiguille du Goûter
Itinerary in bad conditions (rock falls in the Goûter couloir) and currently not recommended.
Bionnassay /Dômes de Miage
The traverse of the Aiguille de Bionnassay is in good condition. However, access via Plan Glacier is not recommended (landslide under Durier). Preferable access from the Conscrits. The descent via the Goûter is also problematic. Possibly plan to sleep at the Goûter and then cross to the Aiguille du Midi via the Trois Monts (bring 2 ice axes).
For the Conscrits area, we quote the post from the refuge on Sunday 17/07:
"Difficult to keep you informed of the conditions, its changing all the time! But overall, it's not getting any better....
The Col de la Bérangère is icy, the traverse is not possible for the moment. It can be attempted, for experienced climbers, from west to east to go to the Durier, but beware of rock falls from the ridge.
Going to the Dôme Central and back is still possible, but you have to adapt to the conditions; the glacier is very crevassed (some sweaty incidents in the last few days, be very careful), some ice appears here and there... in short, it's alpinism!
For an unforgettable experience: those who suffer from the heat can come and refresh themselves in the beautiful swimming pools that you can find on the way up to the Bérangère!"
The other side of Mont Blanc
Refuge Gonella closed due to lack of water. The route is still possible. When the glacier gets too tricky, it will still be possible to go by up the Aiguilles Grises ridge which was partially re-equipped a few years ago (it's long).
Still some activity around here but we can't say the conditions are good.
Arête intégrale du Brouillard is possible but it's quite dry (be careful above the Col Emile Rey). The access from the Eccles and the Brouillard glacier is no longer possible.
The Brouillard and Freney glaciers are very crevassed, as is the Eccles sector. It is preferable to access the bivouacs via the Punta Innominata rather than the Brouillard glacier. There are still a few teams on the Innominata, on the Red pillar of the Brouillard and on the Freney pillar (no precise information on access).
Still some activity (be careful with more unstable weather the next days) on the Peuterey integral (see "cahier de course" on website).
Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.
Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.